The Death of a Weekly Newspaper, through a Cadet Journalist’s Fingers. Part 2


I’d forgotten to mention on the news list I would start sending my stories through imminently, as I usually would with the exception of briefs, to be allocated downpagers (small, non-pic stories I’d do when I felt like it) and pic stories I’d not tightened up yet.  So I sent an email to all concerned in production saying ‘Please note I will begin sending stories to the copy desk now’.  I’d put it off long enough.  However much free, weekly, community newspapers may be scorned, driven over, or simply ignored, it was neither enjoyable nor a relief to be contributing to the final edition of the Gold Coast Mail which, under various name changes over more than 20 years, had once stretched as far as the central Gold Coast.  And I could never accept any responsibility for the demise of something I’d worked so hard, and made so many sacrifices,  for.  Until 6pm I agonised over each submission of copy, yet felt each story was dribble along electronic circuits.  Then said goodbye to the boss, colleagues and limped from the office.

What do you get when you cross two tall, long, aluminium picnic tables (extremely dangerous dancing platforms), darkness pierced only by lasers and people rebelling from whatever conditions they grew from in their home country by getting spastically drunk in Byron Bay’s western CBD?  Cheeky Monkeys.  Oh, and madness.  I’ve become immune, after nine years’ legal drinking, to seeing gorgeous women hanging with men I on face value perceive as absolute morons, in these places.  That of course is because I have and will continue to seek women with both brains and bodies.  Unfortunately, that’s rarely convenient nor expedient at a night club.  So we avoided the question of which lucky ladies we’d approach by playing a Buck Hunter video game.  I was kicking arse during the first game, and he blamed his gun.  So I in a moment of weakness swapped, found the gun was indeed dog shit, and lost.  Still got off a few awesome shots though.  The game overed (hell yes I just invented a word) and our eyes became lighthouses, searching for the lucky ships (females) that would wash up on our rocky shores (conversational ability, and, if we were lucky, genitals).

Tuesday – dreaded deadline day – went pretty quickly in hindsight.  I sent through most of my remaining stories, some of which can be found here: http://www.mydailynews.com.au/.  Took a break with the colleagues to enjoy an office Christmas lunch of ham, salmon, avocado, bread rolls and mince pies.  Then sent through every single last piece of the final paper and went out for a cigarette, probably.  Most deadline days I’d eat an entire supreme pizza from the Eagle Boys across Minjungbal Dr.  Was a nice change of pace.  From a professional point-of-view I felt as if I’d been dumped from a sinking ship (the Mail) onto a deserted island and begun waiting for another ship (the Daily News) to come along while lazing among the palm trees.  The boss informed me I’d be taking over the Saturday Daily News entertainment section, along with contributing to mydailynews.com.au, of course – which I had done before.  I boarded, and stowed my belongings in the third class reserved for cadets.  Then got off said figurative ship and went home for a wave and a beer.

A taste of what's coming up. . . .

One was cute, the other was cute and plump, again.  What’s with that?  But this time they were from Switzerland.  I’d never met any Swiss before to my knowledge.  And I may have before, but forgotten, because I assure you being neutral does involve being very boring.  Don’t anyone dare make any quips about fence-sitting journos at that comment, because I assure you we are not neutral, but do our best to strive for it or at least conceal any bias.  I can’t remember much of the conversation we had with these girls, because they were boring – just not self-described.  And again some may be tempted to comment on my lack of general animation, but I assure you it’s because I generally don’t feel like saying much, not that I don’t have anything interesting to say.  Goddamnit.  Anyway, I do remember them being offended by the hunting game we’d just played.  Sigh, neutrals.  It’s just a game!  Also, he commented on how perfect Switzerland seems, because he’d been there.  I, looking for some interesting banter and because I’m a sceptical journo, asked if there was anything wrong with Switzerland.  They basically replied occasional occurrence of rape.  Awkward.

Wednesday was interesting, but don’t trust me; read on.  I’d made brief note of the fact the funeral for a Kenyan boy who’d drowned on a Tweed Shire beach was on that day, on Tuesday afternoon.  An international incident we’d followed closely that, that day, would attract no less than the Kenyan High Commissioner and more than 1000 locals.  Not that it was anyone’s fault; simply a tragic . . . tragedy.  I made a note because it was mentioned to me by a colleague who felt she was too close to the story, being neighbours with the family he’d billeted with.  And the journo who’d followed it most closely thus far was not working Wednesday.  I’d covered the “paddle out” memorial for him, also available on My Daily News Dot Com.  The shit flew quite near the fan after the news meeting within which I mentioned said note, because we’d not booked a photo and one of our two photographers was in Lismore speaking with the Northern Star about details of changed employment due to the restructure the Daily News had recently gone through.  Through the beauty of communication, it worked out though.  There was a little worry because we might’ve missed a cute story/photo opportunity at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary to do with a puggle (baby echidna).  But through the beauty of communication we got there too :D.  Amazing what a group of people united through adversity can do.  I won’t take you through the events of the funeral, as you can read about it here: http://www.mydailynews.com.au/story/2011/12/21/friends-and-family-honour-sam/.  Excellent photography, quality yet inexperienced journalism; a day finished much better than it started.  I even got this awesome story done (http://www.mydailynews.com.au/story/2011/12/22/tate-launches-mayoral-campaign/) in spite of the more than two hours spent at the funeral.  Did I say ‘awesome’?  I meant one-sided.  But if you think there’s anything wrong with that, in the context of the mentioned story, you can, with all due respect, bite me.

I noticed the cute Swiss chick sitting next to me was wearing a short dress complimented by awesome legs.  Sorry, I’m going to have to stop there while indulging in reverie.

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